Stewarts & Butlers
Posted by Patricia Bingham on February 02, 1998 at 23:00:13:
In response to Servants and stewards and butlers (oh my!) :-), written by MariaH on February 02, 1998 at 12:35:21
The Steward's vocation in life is a little complicated... as Kate said, he was the one who ran the household in the
master's absence and, alone among all servants, he did not wear a uniform. Despite the uniform, he was a servant of the master and mistress of the house, the highest. Originally, however, he would have been of the same social class as his employer, this was true until perhaps the end of Elizabethan times. (Richard II's steward was Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester)
As the mistress of the house took on more domestic responsibilities and more female servants were employed, the steward's role diminished in power and prestige. The steward was weakened further by its division into the separate offices of land steward and house steward. House steward became little more than a butler. Generally, by the nineteenth century, only very grand houses had a steward, and if they did, they rarely had a butler as well.
The basic job of the steward: proxy master of the house, right-hand-man to the mistress in the absence of her spouse,
Hired and fired all domestic servants, took charge of any necessary marketing, kept the household accounts, held the purse-strings and the housekeeper sent all trademen's charged to him for approval.
As far as the butler, he was the man in charge of all the men servants (the housekeeper would have been in charge of the women). By the 19th century he had an entire suite of rooms onto himself, in some cases, including the plate room, a bedroom, a parlour, a pantry scullery and other smaller workrooms for filling lamps, cleaning boots, polishing knives and brushing clothes. The butler and his staff was in charge of preparing and serving wines, cleaning the silver, glassware and cutlery, polishing knives in the knife room, providing lamps, receiving visitors (the butler in the morning, the underbutler or footman in the afternoon) attending to gentlemen's wardrobes (the valet did this for the master), guarding the valuables, and keeping the house itself secure. The butler would have been the last to bed, having closed all the doors and windows after the master went to bed.
I hope that was helpful,
- Housekeeper vs Butler Ann 00:00:35 2/06/98 (1)
- the Butler & the Housekeeper P. Bingham 19:03:39 2/06/98 (0)
- Stewards, agents, bailiffs . . . Woodhouse 07:57:48 2/04/98 (1)
- Land agents & bailiffs... P. Bingham 14:50:59 2/04/98 (0)
- From a particular source? ElaineL 10:19:22 2/03/98 (2)
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